Liver Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2019

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, an estimated 42,030 adults (29,480 men and 12,550 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer. Since 1980, incidence of liver cancer has tripled. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of people diagnosed with the disease increased by approximately 3% annually. Men are about 3 times more likely than women to be diagnosed with the disease.

It is estimated that 31,780 deaths (21,600 men and 10,180 women) from this disease will occur this year. For men, liver cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death. It is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among women. The overall death rate has more than doubled from 1980 to 2016.

When compared with the United States, liver cancer is much more common in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In some countries, it is the most common cancer type.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The general 5-year survival rate is 18%. Survival rates depend on several factors, including the stage of the disease.

For the 44% of people who are diagnosed at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate is 31%. If liver cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 11%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 2%. However, even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, treatments are available that help many people with liver cancer experience a quality of life similar to that of before their diagnosis, at least for some time. If surgery is possible, that generally results in higher survival rates across all stages of the disease.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with liver cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, and the ACS website (January 2019).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by liver cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.